Friday, January 25, 2008
You already know my feelings about what to do with Bernard Berrian, but it seems that thing may have taken a detour now that the Oakland Raiders have shown interest in him. The story goes that the Raiders need a legit WR threat (Ronald Curry can only do so much -- and don't even get me started about what a bust Porter has turned out to be), and that the Bears are probably going to use the Franchise Tag on Berrian instead.
I'll be perfectly honest -- I really didn't have a good understanding of how the tag worked, and odds are that some of you still don't. Here's a quick crash course on what the Franchise Tag is, how it works, and why Berrian will get the non-exclusive tag:
Every year, each NFL team gets ONE Franchise Tag that can be used on any player that is about to become an unrestricted free agent. It's generally used to keep players out of free agency long enough to negotiate a longer contract, or to get an extra year out of a player who deserves a huge raise. We used this trick last year with Lance Briggs (likely gone this year).
There are two types of tags: exclusive, and non-exclusive.
The exclusive tag requires that the contract be equal or higher than the average of the top five salaries at that position of this year, or a 20% raise of their current salary -- whichever is more. In exchange, the Bears get Berrian for another year, and he can't talk to other teams. To do that with Berrian, we're looking at at least $8 million, easy.
The non-exclusive tag is almost the same, except that the contract must be equal to or higher than the previous year in position contracts (or the 20% increase -- whichever is more). This helps offset huge increases in player price -- to put it in baseball terms, imagine having to pay a 3B before A-Rod signed and screwed up the average, or after. It's also why Grossman won't get a tag because his FA price will be much less than the QB average (at least $12 million).
A non-exclusive player can still talk to other teams, but if he gets an offer, the original team is allowed to try and match it. If the original team chooses to not match the offer, they can take two 1st round picks as compensation from the other team.
Now, with that said, what happens to Berrian? If the Bears were to use a tag on him (non-exclusive), he might go to the Raiders anyways. Oakland has been racking up high draft picks for years, and might provide the Bears with some nice 1st round talent (Otah?). Probably the best option for both squads, as the Bears get to retool the line in the draft and the Raiders get an immediate impact player without losing anyone currently on the team.
If, for some reason, the Bears decide to trade Berrian to the Raiders, I can't imagine for what. The Bears "need" a runningback, but why get one from the Raiders? Between Fargas and Jordan, you have two promising guys that can't stay healthy -- and the Raiders probably wouldn't part with Fargas anyways. As bad as our QB situation is, theirs is worse -- I would rather have Orton, Griese, or Grossman than any one of those guys. Their offensive line is filled with downgrades for us, and the same goes for their defensive line. The only possible trade I can see is if the Raiders parted with one of the top players from their secondary -- and that seems unlikely.
Will we see Berrian in a Bears jersey next year? Only time will tell, but don't be surprised if the Bears move him anyways. We have talent in the sure-handed Muhammad, speedy Rashied Davis, and some guy called Devin Hester that we're trying to work into the offense. I envision Hester replacing Berrian in every way -- running fast, dropping the easy catches and making the great ones look easy.